PPD, Two Years Later

16 Jun

I haven’t even begun this post and it’s already misleading. I guess I’ve battled PPD for two years now but really it started before that, before Isobel was even born. While I was pregnant the doctor diagnosed me with antenatal depression and anxiety, so really this began nearly three years ago.

I put off writing about the nursery tour on purpose because of my experience with PPD. Even after I thought I was recovered I’d look at this room and think about how naive I was and how easy I thought it’d all be and god, what a failure I was. I think it’s a measure of how far I’ve come that I look at this room now and think about all the great times we’ve had and how I still love the decor and I just feel light and free.

For me the worst part of PPD was feeling like an utter failure. Nothing particular happened to made me feel this way; as best I can describe it that’s how PPD felt to me. I had a rough labor and needed emergency surgery after Isobel was pulled from my belly. I was awake when they had wheeled me into the OR ,when they had ordered me, mid-contraction, with a catheter bag full of blood, to climb to the operating table, but by the time Isobel emerged, I was out.

I saw Isobel for the first time on my camera’s small screen. My whole family got to meet Isobel before I did while doctors dug around inside of me.  I felt like a failure. From the first minute of motherhood.

Comparatively, my PPD was not that bad. I never had thoughts of harming myself or anybody else, I had no problems lovingly caring for Isobel, and I was only ever prescribed a low dose of a common antidepressant that I no longer take. But overall it deeply affected not only me but my whole family. I am so grateful that I have a loving husband, wonderful friends, and a supportive family, because without them I’m not sure how I would have ever been able to climb out of that pit of depression. I still see my therapist from time to time.

If you have PPD it doesn’t make you a bad mother or a bad partner. It’s a chemical imbalance brought on by the myriad of hormones coursing through your body. If pregnancy itself is making you feel out of control, or if having a newborn is overwhelming, talk to your family, talk to your doctor, talk to your partner. Talk to anyone you trust.  You can recover, and you can thrive, even if you feel miles away from any semblance of normal. You are not a failure. You are not alone.

22 Responses to “PPD, Two Years Later”

  1. Crys June 16, 2011 at 7:42 am #

    Thank you for posting this. So many people go through this and yet it makes you feel so isolated and alone. I had so many issues and still do although they’re different now in a way. I still feel guilty and beat myself up daily on how I wasn’t able to nurse for long and in the beginning I didn’t even want to go pick up Scarlett from the other room because it felt like I was caring for someone else’s baby. I just need to let it go and stop blaming myself but it feels so impossible.

    Being a mama is so hard.

    • LittleBig June 16, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

      I think the difficulty of it can be shocking. You want this baby so bad, and when the time comes, it’s way harder than you imagined. Or things don’t go as planned. It’s hard, intellectually, to reconcile those things, especially when you’re pumped full of hormones.

      Hugs, mama. I think you’re wonderful.

  2. ohnoAMY June 16, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    I’ve been struggling with clinical depression and anxiety my whole life. I applaud you for writing this because it sucks and it’s hard and people who haven’t gone through it often just don’t get it. Lots of hugs.

    • LittleBig June 16, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

      Trying to describe what chronic, unhealthy levels of anxiety feel like to someone who’s never had it is nearly impossible. I still struggle with that the most, and I probably always will. That’s the reason I keep going to the therapist, even when things are “fine.”

  3. Sarah June 16, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    Depression looks and feels different to each person that encounters it. Good for you for posting this. You aren’t alone (and neither are the people reading this who struggle with PPD). You are a fantastic mama to a gorgeous little girl – decidedly not a failure. ❤

    • LittleBig June 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

      Thanks, lady. I only really talked about one part of the depression because the overwhelming feeling of failure led to all the others: I felt like giving up, just not wanting to go on, just letting that failure wash over me into classic symptoms of depression.

  4. Jen@Dear Mommy Brain... June 16, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    I can empathize. I had a really rough pregnancy that ended in an emergency c-section 6 weeks early. Through the entire thing I kept thinking that I was screwing this kid from the beginning. And while I don’t know if you ever fully recover from an experience like that, it continually gets a little better.

    • LittleBig June 16, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

      I guess women who have rough pregnancies and births tend are at a far greater risk of developing PPD. I’m almost certainly going to have to have a C-section again, and while I’m not happy about that, at least I’ll know what to expect.

  5. Erica June 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    No one knows what’s going on in the inside if people don’t share like this. I would never have known.

    Thank you for sharing. And Isobel’s mama is perfect. All the little flaws and all.

    • LittleBig June 16, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

      It got pretty bad, as I was saying to Sarah. I let that feeling of failure take over and I pretty much gave up. Beyond caring for Isobel, I did nothing. I thought nothing, and I kept that up as much as I could, so that I could feel nothing.

      Thank you.

  6. Anne the Librarian June 16, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    Thanks for writing this. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I’m also very glad to know that you can have a light and free feeling now – as it should be, due to your total awesomeness.

  7. Josh Flagner June 16, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    I’m not going to pretend like I know how you feel or that I can relate in any way, really, but I always applaud honesty and guts. This post had both.

    • LittleBig June 16, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

      Thanks, dude. That means a lot.

      • railbirdj June 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

        Phew. After I posted that comment, I thought maybe that I’d end up sounding like I’m all Mr. Perfect and have no idea what being depressed is like because I’m so awesome that there’s no reason for being down. I’m glad you didn’t take it that way. Its just that I’m a guy without kids, or the impending responsibility of pregnancy and motherhood.

        If I ever do end up being a mom, I’ll give you a call and ask for advice. You’ve done pretty well. 😉

  8. Missy June 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    i know that feeling of failure (maybe not as a mother, but as a person). it’s hard to keep going forward (dear god, i have to get up and get through another day tomorrow, wtf?). thank you for posting this and for being willing to share the lovely stories about your family.

    • LittleBig June 16, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

      That’s exactly how it felt. I dreaded waking up just to do it all over again. It was tough.

  9. Alicia June 16, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    Thank you for posting this. You know that I suffered from a bit of PPD and even had private twitter convos about it with you. You were very encouraging, and because of you and my wonderful husband, I decided it was best to see a therapist and work my way through it with the help of a professional and lean on my close family and friends for support.

    • LittleBig June 17, 2011 at 7:58 am #

      I just wish more women had conversations about this before the baby is born. The ‘it’s okay if you feel this way, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother,’ type. Because, like me, I knew you were ECSTATIC for your baby to be born. I knew she was the light in your eyes, long-hoped for and loved even in the belly. And I think it’s hard to reconcile the love with the feelings of PPD afterwards. It’s guilt-inducing, but it doesn’t need to be.

      HUGS, Alicia.

      • Alicia June 17, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

        I was definitely ecstatic at the thought of Olivia being born. The first week after her birth was such an emotional roller-coaster. I had feelings of loving her to pieces, but at the same time I felt like I wasn’t enough for her or anyone else. I felt like a failure as a mother if she cried or wouldn’t nurse, and I felt like a failure as a wife if I didn’t cook dinner or keep the house clean and tidy. It is so sad what PPD puts us women through, and it’s even sadder than people are afraid to speak more freely about PPD. I think it should be the practice of ALL OB/GYN to discuss PPD with their pregnant patients, and let them know the different avenues of coping/support/treatment that are out there, as well as educating them on the possible signs/symptoms of PPD.


  10. Stella June 17, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    I remember reading what you wrote about the initial birth and thinking how amazingly strong you are. I also appreciated your honesty and frankness. I agree that there needs to be more discourse on PPD and simply misconceptions about motherhood in general. We perpetuate this sugarcoated ideal of what motherhood is supposed to be and I’m certain it contributes to feelings of inadequacy if our own experiences don’t live up to that ideal.

  11. Anita July 12, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    We’re friends on Flickr 🙂

    I’m still battling PPD, but in a lighter form. I had it with my first child, then again with my second. But I def. had some form of depression before I was pregnant.

    I felt the same way…an absolute utter failure. A flop as a parent. While I did not have feelings of harming myself or them, some days seemed almost unbearable. I feel tasks like cleaning or cooking are way too “hard” to get through & I def. have the mentality now that if I can’t do something right why do it at all?!…I hope these feelings lessen someday.

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